So you're studying abroad in Italy, huh? You're about to have the most unreal adventure of a lifetime. You've probably already heard about all the pasta and gelato (and I promise, it absolutely lives up to all the hype.) You also know about what a nightmare packing for four months of your life can be. You bought the biggest suitcase you could find, hoping it'll be enough to fit everything from bathing suits to your favorite sweaters, and of course, still have some space for things you'll inevitably buy. But, there are things to pack for study abroad in Italy that you probably didn't think of, so we're hear to save the day.
Packing for multiple seasons is truly not easy. Of course, you're also thinking about which outfits would look best in pictures, because the amount of photo opportunities you'll have abroad is going to be endless. The key is to pack some clothes in your carry-on just in case your luggage gets a little lost or delayed on the way, and pack truly only what you're going to wear.
Heels aren't a priority, but a solid pair of sneakers and a backpack for weekend trips most definitely are. You'll be grateful you brought your big, fancy photography camera, and decided to ditch that dingy scarf at last minute to make a little room for some keepsakes. Yeah, you're packing list is pretty long, but here are seven things you won't want to miss when stuffing your suitcase.
1. A Pillowcase
It's always nice to have a little piece of home when you're away, especially for an entire semester. Your Italian city will quickly become your second home. There's just something about living on your own and finding yourself in a foreign place that turns something so unfamiliar into something so comfortable. But, on the days where culture shock is getting to you or you just miss your friends and family a little extra, having a pillowcase from home to cuddle up with will make this strange place a little more bearable.
2. A Journal
You're going to come home from study abroad with a million stories to share. You'll instantly become that person in your friend crew — the cultured one that at every moment has some exotic story from weekend trips around Europe to tell.
And although you'll likely never forget all the memories you made, it's a good idea to keep a travel journal along the way. Some people start a blog, or just keep a track of their travels in a note on their phone. Axel and Ash carries beautiful journals where you can insert snippets of your adventures and bucket list explorations wherever you may find yourself when you're abroad. All of your stories will be tucked away safely and cherished always in one of these gems.
However you may do it, I hope you take a moment on every train you take to write down your thoughts and feelings at that moment in time. If anything, it'll give you a chance to relive the best semester yet when you're home and the wanderlust inevitably hits.
3. A Sketchbook
Everything in Italy is an art. From the food, to the language, to the actual iconic Botticelli paintings and Michelangelo sculptures in the world-famous museums, there's not a single thing in Italy that isn't completely #arsty.
You'll want to channel your inner art student some days, and instead of pulling out your camera, pull out a sketchbook and a pencil and draw your surroundings. Sure, we aren't all the most talented that way, but being abroad is all about trying something new — and you'll be surprised how easy it is to fill a blank page in a place with so much inspo.
4. Peanut Butter
You'll be eating so much good food no matter where you go in Italy. From the pizza in Rome, to the seafood in Venice, and the insane pasta and paninis in Florence -- there's not a meal that won't be worth taking a picture before digging in.
But, where Italy surprisingly fails in the food department is peanut butter. Europe is all about Nutella, and you won't find your favorite spread no matter where you go. Pack a small jar of JIF or Skippy in your suitcase and savor it throughout the whole semester.
5. A Beach Towel
You'll go on a lot of weekend trips while you're abroad, and some of the best will be when you're exploring the Mediterranean Sea. You've already packed a couple bathing suits that will be so ideal for the perfect "when in Italy" Instagram shot, but a beach day wouldn't be complete without a tropical towel too.
Make some room for this excursion essential. You'll be happy to have it after cliff-diving in the Amalfi Coast or floating between the mountains of Cinque Terre.
All roads lead to Rome. Every good explorer needs a map. Whether you download an app on your phone, or hit up your local travel agent for some old-fashioned folded ones, it's always good to have a look of where you're going.
Italian streets are winding, and you'll probably spend your first few days just wandering the area around your apartment. But, when you're really ready to venture out, having a map will be a lifesaver.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Make some room in your camera roll, because you'll be taking thousands throughout your trip abroad.
The pictures you might forget about are the ones from home of friends and family. These are the shots from last summer, or the ones you took the time to print that will remind you of your roots when you get a little homesick. They'll be a conversation starter with your new abroad friends that weirdly become family too, and you'll find yourself having just as many stories from home as ones from your semester abroad in Italy.